We chose the six mile RT hike accessible from the Rattlesnake Canyon trailhead...via an 11 mile drive through Colorado National Monument then a 13 mile drive down a narrow dirt road with very few wide places for passing. The last two miles of the dirt road is rough, with big enough boulders and drop offs that we chose to park about a mile from the trailhead and walk the rest of the way.
But first, as we made our way through Colorado National Monument on the way to the trailhead a chance sighting brought us to a screeching halt...
|What a way to start the day!
|He seems to be watching the sunrise on one side and keeping an eye his harem across the road below.
|Can you see the five bighorn sheep in this shot?
As the sun came over the sandstone bluff this beautiful apparition moved on and so did we. The dirt road to the trailhead was had us gritting our teeth, hoping we'd not meet up with anyone coming out and, near the end, hoping we'd find a big enough turn around and parking place when the road seemed too rough to continue.
|We saw an arch across the canyon, and it wasn't even part of the arch hike!
|This beautiful juniper skeleton frames potential future arches across Rattlesnake Canyon.
|From the trailhead we hiked about two miles or so before we came to the first of the arches...
well actually three arches at once!
|As we walked along the bench arches would appear seemingly around every corner!
|From our position on the bench we could look down into the canyon to admire the fragile looking spires below.
|Often we could not see an arch until we passed the alcove.
|Even without an arch the sandstone formations were amazing.
|The last arch was substantial.
|I'd read that if you could scale the last arch you could make the hike a loop by connecting with the overlook trail above...
we tried, but there was not a chance for us, it's way too steep!
|As we hiked back past each arch we caught a person peering into an arch on the overlook trail above us!
|Pinion Pine nuts!
This was our last full day in Fruita, CO, stay tuned for a wrap up of the many trails we hiked in the past week. Tomorrow, weather permitting, we're off to Ridgway CO.